A Cautionary Tale & Thoughts on Hiking
I recently read Carrot Quinn's blog post about her heli rescue while hiking the Hayduke and her comments about feeling embarrassed about the ordeal hit home for me.
This summer on a whim I drove to the middle of PA with the intention of hiking the 42 mile Black Forest Trail in a couple days. It was a quickly planned trip and as such I completely forgot a paper map and I did not bring a watch.
7 miles into my hike, after dark and hiking under headlamp, my phone somehow popped out of my pocket and tumbled down into a ravine. My only source of navigation and time was gone because my knew hiking shorts had shallow pockets. Trip: ruined.
I made camp near by and spent an hour looking for it in the morning, but it was fruitless.
Rather than continuing on an unfamiliar trail not knowing my mileage or the time of day, I hiked out the same way I came in and headed home. I felt stupid and embarrassed. I'm better than this! My first thought was "people will think I am stupid" and "I shouldn't tell anyone what happened."
Back in the car and on the road I had more time to process and I decided that using this relatively harmless bumble as a cautionary tale for others was the responsible thing to do. I ended up posting about it on Reddit and in a couple Facebook groups.
Unlike with Carrot, no one called me out for being a fake hiker or stupid or whatever. Carrot's profile is a number of leagues higher than mine and she is also a woman, which likely brings her more bullshit than I'll ever see. People were supportive and thanked me for sharing my experience. When I read that people called her out for being a "fake hiker" it made me sick.
No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes on trail and unpredictable shit can happen. Thankfully, most of the time these mistakes and episodes aren't of any major consequence.
There is no such thing as a fake hiker. If you step foot on trail, even for less than a mile, you're a hiker and no one can take it from you. This endeavor is about what makes you happy and as long as you're happy then you're "doing it right."